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Our forefathers in colonial times had their national universities beyond the sea, and all of the young colonists who were able to do so, went to Oxford or Cambridge for their classical degrees, and to Edinburgh and London for training in medicine, for admission to the bar, or for clerical orders. Local colleges seemed as unnecessary as did local scientific societies.

Many attempts were made to establish local societies before final results were accomplished, and the beginnings of the national college system had a similar history.

In 1619 the Virginia Company of England made a grant of ten thousand acres of land for “the foundation of a seminary of learning for the English in Virginia,” and in the same year the bishops of England, at the suggestion of the king, raised the sum of fifteen hundred pounds for the encouragement of Indian education in connection with the same foundation. A beginning was made toward the occupation of the land, and George Thorpe, a man of high standing in England, came out to be superintendent of the university, but he and three hundred and forty other colonists (including all the tenants of the university) were destroyed by the Indians in the massacre of 1622.

The story of this undertaking is told by Prof. H. B. Adams in the "History of the College of William and Mary,” in which also is given an account of the Academia Virginiensis et Oxoniensis, which was to have been founded on an island on the Susquehanna River, granted in 1624 for the founding and maintenance of a university, but was suspended on account of the death of its projector, and of King James I., and the fall of the Virginia Company.

Soon after, in 1636, came the foundation of Harvard,

University, as well as in a certain private library in Baltimore. A full account of this enterprise may be found in Herbert B. Adams's “ Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia," pp. 21–30, and other records occur in Mordecai's "Richmond in By-gone Days" (2d edition, pp. 198–208), and in Goode's Virginia Cousins,” p. 57.

The building erected for the Academy of Sciences was the meeting-place of the convention of patriots and statesmen who ratified in 1788 the Constitution of the United States, and subsequently was the principal theatre of the city of Richmond.

then in 1660 William and Mary, Yale in 1701, the College of New Jersey in 1746, the University of Pennsylvania in 1751, Columbia in 1754, Brown in 1764, Dartmouth in 1769, the University of Maryland in 1784, that of North Carolina in 1789-95, that of Vermont in 1791, and Bowdoin (the college of Maine) in 1794.

When Washington became President, one hundred years ago, there were no scientific foundations within this republic save the American Academy in Boston, and in the American Philosophical Society, Bartram's Botanic Garden, the private observatory of Rittenhouse, and Peale's NaturalHistory Museum, Philadelphia.

Washington's own inclinations were all favorable to the progress of science; and Franklin, who would have been Vice-President but for his age and weakness, Adams, the Vice-President, and Jefferson, Secretary of State, were all in thorough sympathy with the desire of their chief to “promote as objects of primary importance institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge." All of them were Fellows of the American Philosophical Society, and the President took much interest in its proceedings: the records of the Society show that he nominated for foreign membership the Earl of Buchan, President of the Society of Scottish Antiquaries, and Dr. James Anderson.

Washington's mind was scientific in its tendencies, and his letters to the English agriculturists, Young, Sinclair, and Anderson, show him to have been a close student of physical geography and climatology. He sent out with his own hand, while President, a circular-letter to the best-informed farmers in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, and having received a considerable number of answers, prepared a report on the resources of the middle Atlantic States, which was the first of the kind written in America, and was a worthy beginning of the great library of agricultural science which has since emanated from our government press.

In a letter to Arthur Young, dated December 5, 1791, he manifested great interest in the Hessian fly, an insect making frightful ravages in the wheat-fields of the Middle States, and so much dreaded in Great Britain that the importation of wheat from America was prohibited.' It was very possibly by his request that a committee of the Philosophical Society prepared and printed an elaborate and exhaustive report, and since its chairman was Washington's Secretary of State, it was practically a governmental affair, the precursor of subsequent Entomological Commissions, and of our Department of Economic Entomology.'

The interest of Washington in the founding of a national university, as manifested in the provisions of his last will and testament, are familiar to all, and I have been interested to learn that his thoughts were earnestly fixed upon this great project during all the years of the Revolutionary War. It is an inspiring thought, that during the long and doubt. ful struggle for independence, the leader of the American arms was looking forward to the return of peace, in anticipation of an opportunity to found in a central part of the rising empire an institution for the completing of the education of youths from all parts thereof, where they might at the same time be enabled to free themselves in a proper degree from local prejudices and jealousies.

Samuel Blodget in his." Economica," relates the history of the beginning of a national university,

As the most minute circumstances are sometimes in. structing for their relation to great events," he wrote, “we

* In an article recently published by Professor C. V. Riley, he sustains the popular belief and tradition that Cecidomya was introduced about the time of the Revolution, and probably by Hessian troops. He gives interesting details concerning the work of the Committee of the American Philosophical Society, and a review of recent controversies upon this subject.—See Canadian Entomologist, xx., p. 121.

3 Before the organization of the Department of Agriculture, another step in economic entomology was taken by the general government in the publication of an official document on silk-worms : 1828. MEASE, JAMES.

20th Congress,
18th Session.

(Doc. No. 226.] Ho. of Reps. / Silk-Worms. I Letter | from | James Mease, I transmitting | a treatise on the rearing of silkworms, 1 by Mr. De Hozze, of Munich, / with plates, &c., &c. | 1 February 2, 1828.-Read and referred to the Committee on Agriculture. I

| Washington : | Printed by Gales and Seaton | 1828. | 8o. pp. I-108.



relate the first we ever heard of a national university : it was in the camp at Cambridge, in October, 1775, when Major William Blodget went to the quarters of General Washington, to complain of the ruinous state of the colleges from the conduct of the militia quartered therein. The writer of this being in company with his friend and relation, and hearing General Greene join in lamenting the then ruinous state of the eldest seminary of Massachusetts, observed, merely to console the company of friends, that to make amends for these injuries, after our war, he hoped we should erect a noble national university, at which the youth of all the world might be proud to receive instructions. What was thus pleasantly said, Washington immediately replied to, with that inimitably expressive and truly interesting look, for which he was sometimes so remarkable: Young man you are a prophet ! inspired to speak what I am confident will one day be realized. He then detailed to the company his impressions, that all North America would one day become united : he said that a Colonel Byrd,' of Virginia, was the first man who had pointed out the best central seat [for the capital city] near to the present spot, or about the falls of the Potomac. General Washington further said that a Mr. Evans' had expressed the same opinion with many other gentlemen, who, from a cursory view of a chart of North America, received this natural and truly correct impression. The look of General Washington, the energy of his mind, his noble and irresistible eloquence, all conspired so far to impress the writer with these subjects, that if ever he should unfortunately become insane it will be from his anxiety for the federal city and national university."

In another part of the same book, Mr. Blodget describes ? Probably the third William Byrd (1728-1777], the son of the author of the “Westover Papers." He was Colonel of the Second Virginia Regiment in 1756, and perhaps was in camp with Washington on the present site of the capital, when he became so deeply impressed with the eligibility of the site for a national city.

? Perhaps Lewis Evans, the geographer, who in 1755 published a map of the central colonies, including Virginia.

“ Economica,” p. 22.


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a conversation with Washington, which took place after the site of the capital had been decided upon, in which the President “stated his opinion that till there were 4 or 5,000 inhabitants in the city of Washington and until Congress were comfortably accommodated, it might be premature to commence a seminary. .. He did not wish to see the work commenced until the city was prepared for it, but he added that he hoped he had not omitted to take such measures as would at all events secure the entire object in time, even if its merits should not draw forth from every quarter the aid it would be proud to deserve," alluding, of course, to the provisions in his own will. “He then," continues Blodget, “talked again and again on Mr. Turgot's and Dr. Price's calculations of the effect of compound interest, at which, as he was well versed in figures, he could acquit himself in a masterly manner."

Concerning the fate of the Potomac Company, a portion of whose stock was destined by Washington as a nucleus for the endowment of a university, it is not necessary now to speak. The value of the bequest was at the time placed at five thousand pounds sterling, and it was computed by Blodget, that had Congress kept faith with Washington, as well as did the Legislature of Virginia in regard to the endowment of Washington College, his donation at compound interest, would in twelve years (1815) have grown to $50,000 and in twenty-four (1827) years $100,000, an endowment sufficient to establish one of the colleges in the proposed university.

Madison, when a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, probably acting in harmony with the wishes of Washington, proposed as among the powers proper to be added to those of the General Legislature, the following:

“ To establish a university.

“To encourage, by premiums and provisions, the advancement of useful knowledge, and the discussion of science."

That he never lost his interest in the university idea is

* 1b., App., p. ix.

? "Madison Papers,” i., pp. 354 and 577.

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